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Life With the Toyota Corolla: What Do Owners Really Think?

toyota-corolla-2018-comments Toyota Corolla reviews | Cars.com graphic by Paul Dolan

Finding a vehicle that won’t break the bank in the current market of inflated prices and deflated inventory can seem like a herculean effort. As used-vehicle prices creep up alongside the new, choosing a reliable used car can help minimize the sticker shock of buying amid the ongoing inventory shortage. A compact sedan like the Toyota Corolla is among the most budget-friendly cars on the market, and buying a used previous-generation (2014-19) model can yield even greater savings.

Related: 2017 Toyota Corolla: Our View

Is a used Toyota Corolla the best choice to be your next daily driver? As we examined hundreds of Cars.com user reviews of the 11th-generation Corolla, several trends of pros and cons emerged. Read on to learn more about the 2014-19 Corolla, see what owners really think and get our Cars.com experts’ take on the compact sedan.

2014-19 Corolla: Key Facts

toyota-corolla-xse-2018-01-oem 2018 Toyota Corolla | Manufacturer image

The 11th generation of the Corolla launched in 2014 with updated styling, a new continuously variable transmission and a more refined interior that offered increased second-row passenger space. Under the hood of the Corolla was a 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder engine mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission; a six-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission were available on select models. At launch, the engine made 132 horsepower and 128 pounds-feet of torque across most trims levels; the LE Eco model, which was only available with the CVT, got a slight power bump to 140 hp.

For its 2017 mid-cycle refresh, the Corolla gained important standard safety and driver-assist features and saw the addition of a larger 7-inch touchscreen as an option. The 2014-19 Corolla lagged behind the competition when it came to available technology, however; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto were unavailable until the Corolla entered its 12th generation.

It’s worth noting that the information below relates to the 2014-19 Corolla sedan; a new Corolla Hatchback model replaced the outgoing Corolla iM (a rebadged Scion iM) in 2019. The Corolla Hatchback uses a different platform than the sedan and is more closely related to the European Toyota Auris than its sedan namesake available stateside.

Raves and Rants

toyota-corolla-eco-2017-oem 2017 Toyota Corolla | Manufacturer image

Cars.com user reviews of the 2014-19 Corolla revealed many of the vehicle’s perceived strengths, along with some common pet peeves. The vehicle’s reliability, fuel economy, interior space and standard safety features were cited as strong suits, but not all owners were smitten with their vehicle choice. Issues with the Corolla’s cruise control, along with acceleration and noise complaints — particularly during highway driving —  came up repeatedly among owners. (Comments have been edited for clarity.)

Rave: Rock-Solid Reliability

Many 11th-gen Corolla owners touted the vehicle’s reliability even after several years of ownership and thousands of miles on the odometer. Toyota has historically been a strong performer in J.D. Power’s reliability surveys: The Corolla landed on the firm’s list of most reliable sedans for 2017 and Toyota ranked fourth overall among automakers for 2018.

“This was my first new vehicle purchase and it has been a reliable and affordable choice. I have had the car for about three years, driven 32,000 miles and have had no issues to date. ToyotaCare covered all maintenance for the first two years, which helped to keep the cost of ownership low.”  — Cars.com consumer review for 2016 Corolla; Boston

“The Corolla provides good value for the price. This is the second one I have owned and both have been very reliable. There is a decent amount of space in the backseat  — enough for two growing boys. The Corolla is certainly not the flashiest, but it is a straightforward and useful vehicle.” — 2018 Corolla; Buxton, Maine

“All I really want from a car is to get me from point A to point B and (hopefully) back to point A. I have owned three previous Toyotas and have always found them to be reliable, which was the biggest factor in my decision to purchase this vehicle. The backup camera is a nice feature (or necessity, since the view out the back window is limited due in part to wide pillars). Overall, this is not a car that is especially fun to drive, but it will reliably get you to where you’re going.” — 2017 Corolla; Lake City, Pa.

“I’ve had my Corolla for a little over three years now, and I am still very happy with my decision to get one. I have not once had to worry about something breaking down or suddenly stop working.” — 2017 Corolla; Atlanta

Rave: Thrifty at the Pump

toyota-corolla-2017-28 2017 Toyota Corolla | Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

Factoring in the cost of ownership can be just as important as the price of a vehicle when budgeting. According to many Corolla owners, the small car’s fuel efficiency adds to its value and affordability. The EPA gave this generation of the Toyota Corolla combined city/highway fuel economy ratings from 30 to 34 mpg depending on trim level and powertrain. Some owners claim they achieved mpg numbers that were significantly higher than EPA estimates.

Despite returning an average of 33.3 mpg in a 2017 Cars.com compact sedan comparison, the Corolla trailed most of its competitors in this category, including the Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra, which took the top three spots.

“This was a great purchase. I intended to get an older S model, but I drove this 2019 Corolla LE, and I fell in love with the extras. Adaptive cruise control and lane departure are amazing. And I love how the dash looks. When I first got it, I averaged 42-44 mpg easily. Now, as I have fun with it, I average about 37 mpg which is amazing as I’ve always been a truck owner. I recommend this car to anyone and everyone!” — 2019 Corolla; N.H.

“This is my first brand-new car. It’s been exactly a year now that I had my Corolla, and I’ve put 13,500 miles on it so far with no issues. I’m getting 35 mpg; I drive in the city five days a week and on the highway one day a week. I drive about 40 miles a day back and forth from home to work. I have to say I finally made the right choice in buying a car!” — 2018 Corolla; Memphis, Tenn.

“The safety features on this car impressed me from the beginning. The backup camera is awesome. The gas mileage is unbelievable and probably the best part. If you’re looking for something that will get you the most bang for your buck in mpg, this is it. Sometimes it gets 40 mpg!” — 2018 Corolla; Lancaster, Pa.

“I drive a lot, so the fact that I get 40-45 mpg on the highway and 30-35 mpg in the city is awesome. I have three kids (ages 5-13) and they all love the car. It has a slick look to it and is very comfortable. I love my car!” — 2017 Corolla; Metaline Falls, Wash.

“It’s comfortable, reliable and gets 40 mpg on average with mostly highway driving. 73,000 miles on original tires and counting!” — 2018 Corolla; Clover, S.C.

“The Corolla SE is a great little car. It gets excellent gas mileage (42 or more mpg on trips) and it is fun to drive. It handles well and comes with many safety features.” — 2018 Corolla; Dallas, N.C.

Rave: Not Stingy on Space

toyota-corolla-2017-35 2017 Toyota Corolla | Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

Compact sedans aren’t typically lauded for their spacious interiors, but the Corolla bucks this trend, according to owners and Cars.com experts’ reviews. Many owners were impressed by the vehicle’s legroom, backseat space and trunk space. The 2017 Cars.com review of the Toyota Corolla supports these raves: “The rear bench seat is impressively roomy, with more space than you might expect from a compact sedan. Legroom is good for taller adults, and the seat cushion offers good thigh support,” said Senior Editor Mike Hanley.

“In general, we like it. Its performance is good enough for an elderly couple. It’s very quiet, has a good ride and is spacious (I’m 6 feet tall) in the front, back and the trunk.” — 2017 Corolla; Miami

“I bought my 2019 Toyota Corolla as a certified used car. I went from driving a 2018 Ram 1500 truck to this vehicle. I would much rather drive the Corolla. I am a mom of two boys and I love that it is a sporty ‘mom’ car. It’s kid-friendly as it fits both my boys’ car seats and they still have plenty of room in the back. They can enter and exit the vehicle easily. I think it handles well, gets excellent gas mileage and comes with a great warranty being a certified used vehicle.” — 2019 Corolla; Baton Rouge, La.

“Love it. So much legroom, big trunk, handles great. Plenty of room for the kids to be comfortable. I also love the backup camera and there are plenty of cupholders.” —2019 Corolla; Weaver, Ala.

Rave: Safety Is a Given

toyota-corolla-se-2018-oem 2018 Toyota Corolla | Manufacturer image

The Corolla was one of the first cars in its class to offer a robust suite of standard safety features. This earned praise not just from owners but also the judges in our 2017 Compact Sedan Challenge. For its mid-cycle refresh, the 2017 Corolla gained new standard active-safety features including forward precollision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and prevention, automatic high-beam headlights and adaptive cruise control.

“Once again, the Toyota Corolla has exceeded my expectations for a budget Toyota. I have the pretty basic LE, but it still comes with driver assist, automatic gas mileage tracking, auto headlights and radar cruise control. It feels smooth and quiet to drive. One drawback is that there is a tad less visibility in my rearview mirror compared to my 2016 Corolla, but this would not stop me from buying again.” — 2019 Corolla; Cleveland

“I was surprised with all the extra legroom in the backseats. It’s great on gas, has a backup camera, Bluetooth audio, lane departure alert and precollision. Overall, I’m super-satisfied with the purchase.” — 2017 Corolla; Clovis, Calif.

“This car is perfect in every way: It has plenty of interior space even with two car seats in the backseat and comfortable seating. There are lots of fun features (backup camera, side mirror defrost, automatic headlights, pull-down beverage console, driver assist and many more).” — 2019 Corolla; Stockton, Calif.

“This car is amazing on gas compared to what I’ve owned in the past. I love the touchscreen radio and driver-assist features when I’m on the highway. The front sensors have already kept me from hitting another vehicle; they beep when you get too close to something (about 1 foot).” — 2019 Corolla; Hickory, N.C.

Rant: The Cruise Control Is Out of Control

Although the Corolla’s driver-assist features are welcomed by most owners, one feature is a source of headaches: According to several reviews, when the Corolla’s adaptive cruise control system is engaged, it can cause the engine to rev to unusually high rpm, especially when going downhill. Dozens of similar complaints have been submitted through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration under the “vehicle speed control” category. No formal recall was issued, however.

“Sorry to have to give just an ‘OK’ rating to the 2019 Corolla, but this one has some problems. The cruise control downshifts the engine when going downhill (and not even just on steep declines). The tachometer revs up to 3,000-4,000 rpm frequently and for extended times, driving down gas mileage. I have been driving Toyota vehicles forever, but if this was my first Toyota, I think I would pass next time and try some other make.” — 2019 Corolla; Warner Robins, Ga.

“It runs smoothly and has nice modern features. I wish the seat had more adjustability (I am short) and the cruise control automatic distance is very sensitive, even at the lowest setting. It also doesn’t adjust back up to speed well when moving to another lane from behind the slow car.” — 2018 Corolla; Kissimmee, Fla.

“This 2018 Corolla is the fourth Toyota that I’ve purchased. I love the car, but I will never buy another Corolla and maybe not even another Toyota. The cruise control is a nightmare. Going uphill or downhill, it will raise the tachometer to over 4,000 rpm without increasing speed. The dealer said that’s normal, but I am telling you that is not normal. It takes the fun out of driving because you are constantly hearing and seeing it at every hill, going up or down.” — 2018 Corolla; Newark, Ohio

This car is fantastic. I could not believe how many safety features it came with for the price I paid for it. The one issue is with the cruise control; when it’s set and you hit a downslope (even the backside of overpasses), the CVT can’t adjust and sends the tachometer to over 4,000 rpm until the engine is forced to ‘pull’ again. I watch it closely now and just touch the accelerator at the first hint, and it returns to normal. This is in the vein of ‘first-world problems’ because otherwise, the car is way beyond satisfactory all around.” — 2018 Corolla; Wichita Falls, Texas

“Please note, this vehicle’s cruise control will go completely haywire on even the slightest downhill grade. I’m so deeply regretful I let myself get talked into this as my first new car.” — 2017 Corolla; Freeland, Pa.

Rant: Highway Hassles

toyota-corolla-2017-05 2017 Toyota Corolla | Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

The Corolla’s powertrain and excessive noise were a source of frustration for some owners, especially when driving at highway speeds. The sedan’s power (or lack thereof) was often the only complaint among otherwise positive reviews of the vehicle. When reviewing the 2017 Corolla, we found its CVT responsive but noisy. We also noted that the four-cylinder engine is capable of getting the car up to highway speeds, but once there, high-speed passing becomes more of a challenge.

I have 45,000 miles on this car and so far everything seems to work well. It is definitely not a powerful car — stay off the interstates — and the drift is pretty noticeable at speeds over 65 mph. You get great gas mileage (38 mpg on my LE Eco) and the ride is bumpy — typical of small cars. Forget the cruise control — it’s useless on this car, and the lane assist and other ‘assist’ features are bothersome. If you want dependability and good mileage, buy this car; if you want style and speed, shop elsewhere.” — 2018 Corolla; Charlotte, N.C.

“Great first month of ownership. I really wish Toyota would offer Apple CarPlay. Power is definitely better in the Civic or Mazda3, but my family has had Toyotas since 1980, and they’ve never let us down.” — 2018 Corolla; Baltimore

“Even though it’s a bit underpowered, especially with the A/C on, the Corolla is great at everything it is supposed to be, and it doesn’t try to pretend otherwise. Other cars are more fun and have various positives and negatives, as well. Personally, I am not a fan of the dashboard styling, but the seats and interior of my LE are comfortable, and visibility is good.”  — 2018 Corolla; Dallas

“I’ve had my Corolla for almost a year. It has a very smooth ride and spacious legroom in the backseats. However, there is a lot of outside noise, including wind, when windows are up. I feel the pricing could be a bit lower, but overall it’s a very nice car and I would recommend it.” — 2017 Corolla; Columbus, Ohio

More From Cars.com:

Trims, Features and Pricing

toyota-corolla-xse-2018-02-oem 2018 Toyota Corolla | Manufacturer image

Originally available in 10 trim levels for 2014, that number was condensed to six for the 2019 model year: L, LE, LE Eco, SE, XLE and XSE (compare them here). Key standard features include forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning with steering assist, adaptive cruise control, a touchscreen multimedia system, Bluetooth and a 60/40-split, folding backseat.

Going with a used 11th-generation Corolla can offer thousands of dollars in savings over buying a new 2022 model or a used 12th-generation example. The median used price for 2014-19 Corollas among Cars.com listings is $16,997. In comparison, new 2022 Corollas have a median price of $22,025 while the median used price for a 2020-21 Corolla is even higher, at $23,047.

What’s New for the 12th-Generation Corolla?

White 2021 Toyota Corolla Apex 2021 Toyota Corolla SE Apex Edition | Cars.com photo by Stephen Pham

The current generation of the Corolla launched in 2020 with new styling and interior and tech upgrades as well as a new hybrid model. A new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine borrowed from the Corolla Hatchback also became available in SE and XSE models. In the sedan, the 2.0-liter engine makes 169 hp and 151 pounds-feet of torque and can be paired with a six-speed manual or CVT. Most Corolla models saw the return of the 1.8-liter engine from the previous generation.Toyota also added an Apex Edition with sportier styling and a firmer suspension to the SE and XSE for 2021. Apple CarPlay was added in 2020, and Android Auto followed in 2021.

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